The stalled project to put WiFi on trains in Pakistan appears to be back on track. Speaking at a major review of development projects at Pakistan Railways earlier this week, Railways and Aviation Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique, directed that Free WiFi should be installed in all economy class carriages. He was speaking in response to rising fuel prices and a drive to lure more passengers onto trains.
The state-owned transport giant, which carries some 70 million passengers annually, has also outlined plans to install fast, free WiFi at every “divisional level” railway station. To some extent this is mimicking its neighbour India which has already successfully installed WiFi at over 6,000 rail stops, large and small.
Pakistan Railways is currently in the midst of a modernisation programme - Pakistan Railways Vision 2026. The main drive of which is to boost its share of the national transport sector to 20% (up from around 5% currently). As part of this scheme, the company has introduced e-ticketing services via an agreement between Pakistan Railways and United Bank Ltd. The two partners enable passengers to use credit or debit cards or their mobile banking app to purchase tickets.
The train operator has offered WiFi services on board its flagship business express train between Lahore and Karachi since 2012. The Pak Business Express covers the 1,200km journey in around 18 hours. The train is a joint venture between Pakistan Railways and private investment vehicle M/S Four Brothers.
Pakistan Railways has also been offering WiFi on its re-branded Greenline trains covering the 23 hour haul between Karachi and Islamabad. However, the service came in for criticism over the speed and extent of coverage offered on the route.
The emergence of new technology and systems to improve WiFi on board trains and enhance track-side wireless coverage will all be discussed by train operators, rail administrators and suppliers at this year’s global WiFi on Trains Conference - Traincomms 2022.
The Full Programme is Available now … www.Traincomms.com
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This year’s Conference is sponsored by Westermo, Nomad, GlobalReach Technology and RADWIN.